Melchor Island, the Venice of Antarctica


Already having breakfast, I receive a couple of emails, which the "radio-controler" brings me to the room. One of them I receive every day or every night. It makes me especially excited. The other is new, since nobody knows the ship's email, just two people. Of course, it is the great Elias, the great motivator of the blog, has written to us that everything was going well and sent us the comments that you have left us (by the way, do it every 3 or 4 days or you ruin me and put in the subject only and exclusively, ISAAC - ROOM 426, hahaha). Angela when reading them has been moved. He says thank you all very much. Like Josep and Manel. I, my family, friends and company, tell them to be calm, that I am great, as always and that, without a doubt, I am enjoying the trip of my life... not only because of what I see ... but because of what I feel. By the way, although I said it before coming, so there is no doubt. Where it says "FOTOAA" means that there will be a photo, but with the SATELLITE EMAIL here, I can only write plain text. I can not read you, or put photos, or internet or anything. And that's enough, because the keyboard is in Russian ...

Warn by the whale watching speaker! In the Molchanov there are no races in the halls, nor squeezes to take place. We are only about fifty expeditionaries and there are 3 levels and places to see in all directions.

There they are, they are Humpback whales or also called Yubartas, whales that reach up to 17 m (although they have been seen up to 20m) and 40t in weight. They are a protected species since 1967 since there are barely 10,000 copies in the world. It is a privilege to observe them.

Just listening silently to its sound when it comes out of the water, brings to mind the multitude of tales of sailors always heard. The Yubarta is possibly the origin of the great myths of sea monsters and the songs of mermaids. Even today they say that being close to them makes you feel disoriented, probably because of the sounds emitted in your strong breath.

And so it is, to listen silently to the whales going up and down in the waters, is a true joy that hypnotizes anyone. And that we have not seen such bugs jump. Manel has done it in Alaska, he is lucky.

Wednesday, December 9
13'14, Dallman Bay, Zodiak by Melchor Island
At 63º 00 'W, 64º 19' S

There are, for me, many Venecias in the world. There is the real Venice, of which I keep a pleasant memory although lately I do not hear very good things. There is the Venice of the North, as they call Bruges. At JOURNEY TO BURMA 2006 I met another Venice, Inle Lake. Today I have known what I have read called the Venice of Antarctica.

For the first time on the trip, we have felt the true crudeness of Antarctica. The temperature has dropped a lot and the thermal sensation is -30ºC, in addition to blizzards and snow in abundance. Christmas has arrived here ahead of time. Rather, it is always Christmas. That would be a Christmas without snow ... Today I decided to put on another layer since today we are going to experience a new experience. We will not do "landing" but we will make two expeditions in Zodiak, to be able to reach the most unexplored places.

The adventure, because it has been such, becomes hard from the beginning. Just going down to the Zodiak is an ordeal. There you look for your place, you shelter with the companions and you protect the camera with the chest trying to avoid its freezing.

I have to say, when I thought that nothing could surprise me there was a moment that I wanted to cry again. The zodiak borders Melchor Island from Dallman Bay where Molchanov has anchored. From the first moment we see multitude of natural sculptures, of different blues, tones and textures. In front of our eyes, just 2m away, we hear the crush of one of them watching it slide against the water. It is an indescribable spectacle. I don't know how to make the stories to try to express myself. And the photos will not transmit everything here. It is the fact of feeling nothing, miniscle, before the greatness of this inhospitable nature, where only a privileged few survive. Incredible beings.

We continue the walk through the icebergs of great edges broken by the wind, along roads surrounded by thick layers of ice. They are true channels. That's why it's called the Venice of Antarctica to Melchor Island. And not only that, inside, all kinds of life, even Weddell seals less than 3m.

Returning abroad, we can observe big cliffs, where cormorants, penguins of all kinds and petrels make their lives.

Conditions, already bad in themselves, harden. Has started a blizzard much stronger and the snow doesn't stop. Now I understand a little more, even if only partially, what the real expeditionaries of the beginning of the 20th century felt. The race to reach the South Pole that was tried so many times and finally the Norwegian Admusen managed to snatch Scott. But, above all, the history of the Endurance does not leave me indifferent. On this trip I have brought the book one of the versions of the story, written by Caroline Alexander, entitled "Caught in the ice". I have not finished it, I have a few pages left that I will finish these days, but the heroism of Shackleton and 5 companions has left me chilled, to arrive in a small boat with a few provisions (matches, oil, rockets, cooker, sleeping bags , food rations, nuts, cookies, sugar, milk powder, salt, water and ice) from Elephant Island to San Pedro Island, a !!! 1,300 km !! from there, under storms, storms, cold and ice. And they got it.

We go in layers of onions (they wore only woolen garments), we are not cold but the hands for the camera go only with silk gloves and are soaked. I have gotten them to the brink of freezing.

First of all, what I am going to tell you now, especially the family, I want you to start from the base that we have not passed danger. Okay? Of the 5 boats that depart from Molchanov, once the route ends, we all head back to the ship bordering Melchor Island again. The group of 10 people who go on my boat is led by a Russian sailor. The fog has come down a lot and you hardly see anything. The entire boat is completely silent while, at high speed, tries to return to the ship. We all grab our legs as we can. It is very cold and it snows more and more. Suddenly the boat stops. We raise our heads and see the Russian trying to get in touch by the Talkie with the Molchanov. The answer, the silence. We look around and see no sign of the rest of the lachas. They are tense minutes. Even Manel tries to leave him the GPS that he always carries on him that the Russian looks at him as if it were an abacus ... he does not understand or pope. We have lost. Lost in the fog. You don't see anything around. It is like a ghostly movie.

Time passes, and every time my hands have a worse time. We all look at each other helplessly. It's 20 minutes that looks like 12 hours ... until the Talkie comes a voice. !! It's the Molchanov! After a few words in Russian, we spot Molchanov in the fog. I have never been so glad to see him before.

It was a bad time, but now the hot shower is back and the Sopistant is not taken away by anyone. I have recovered my hands.,

Wednesday, December 9
14'24, Heading to Enterprise Island
At 62º 17 'W, 64º 33' S

It rings through the speaker that the food is ready. You don't eat badly in Molchanov. It never rains to everyone's taste but it is quite acceptable. There is only one menu a day with an extra option for vegetarians to which we all sign up as soon as we don't like the main course. It is served on the ground floor, which they call Restaurant. At the moment I have eaten quite well, I will not deny it. One day chicken, another hake, another duck, another roast, another salmon, ... always accompanied by some salad type entree, shrimp cocktail, cream or soup. Maybe you miss being able to repeat ... and that is that food is measured by the hand.

Russian waitresses are also quite nice (Marina?!?!? And Nazchasva or something like that). The other day I tried to explain what a "Cuban rice" was like as a suggestion for some day, but they split with me (or me) because I don't see it anywhere, haha

Although they call it "restaurant" they always end up using it for other things: conferences, talks, videos, explanations of protocols, etc ...

!! Call !! !! They spot minke whales !! The missing ones. These whales are much harder to see since it is barely 7 to 10 m long and weighs 5 to 10 t. In addition, their slimmer appearance and faster speed make it difficult to follow. They are "sisters" of the blue whales, of the bearded family.

Wednesday, December 9
18'33, Wilhelmina Bay, Enterprise Island
At 62º 12 'W, 64º 36' S

How the day has changed. Molchanov has stopped at Wilhelmina Bay, next to Enterprise Island, to make another expedition in Zodiak, the only way to explore unexplorable places and more in this area of ​​Antarctica where it is almost impossible to disembark. The sun makes the threat of going out between the clouds. The wind has stopped completely and the temperature is ideal. Above 0ºC. !! We fled the Russian sailor in the morning !! Now we travel with Crhistian, one of the "guide leaders" of Ocenwide Expedition

If in the morning it has been a show of channels. The afternoon is a true Walk between sculptural icebergs of all colors, sizes, blues, reflections and sparkles. They are like huge lumps of sugar floating in the sea.

Of course, Enterprise Island has its own wildlife, penguins and Weddell seals.

Enterprise Island is also famous because in 1916 the famous one ran aground Norwegian whaler Governor. There are their remains, as well as those of the boats they used to find pieces of ice or snow to feed the boats.

But without a doubt, the best moment of the day is possibly the moment when Crhistian completely stops the zodiak engine and asks us to enjoy the silence of Antarctica. There, and only for a moment, the wind blows. Surrounded by beautiful icebergs, cliffs, snow, mountains and petrels, I find again what I have been looking for. This moment, and even if only for a moment, is priceless.

Wednesday, December 9
22'38, Wilhelmina Bay, Enterprise Island
At 62º 12 'W, 64º 36' S

The members of Molchanov, especially their 2 chefs, have prepared a surprise for us today. As the weather is great at this time of night (although here it is still completely daytime) today we have barbecue and mini-party on the boat deck. Oleeee !!! And we can repeat !!!

Creole, beef, shrimp skewers, salmon, Russian salad, beers ... a real barbecue with the beautiful view of Wihelmina Bay, in the middle of Antarctica. I would never have imagined it. Congratulations Chefs!

The party lengthens, but little by little, we are retiring. More than one penguin will have declared us people pleasing us by these waters. Although who knows, the same they had HIS OWN VERBENA. Good evening, Antarctica. Good evening family, friends, readers and company.

Isaac from Antarctic waters (Antarctica)